“The crisis represents a threat not only to Iraq but to regional and international peace,” a statement from Maliki’s office said.

Kerry arrived here on Monday on a mission to push for Iraqi unity and stability in the face of a major militant offensive that threatens to tear the country apart.

The offensive, which is led by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant besides other groups, has overrun major areas of five provinces north and west of Baghdad.

Security forces wilted under the initial onslaught and are now struggling to hold their ground in the face of the relentless militant drive.


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